And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. — Exodus 34:27
The word covenant has a stronger connotation than the word promise. Webster’s Dictionary says a covenant is a “formal, solemn, and binding agreement.” Keeping a covenant means upholding it even in the difficult times.
Samuel and Linda Kuan are an example of a couple who faithfully kept their marriage covenant. They were Christians who married in China and had three children. Samuel was the Chief Officer on a merchant ship that came to the Portland, Oregon, harbor, and he attended services at our church.
In the 1960s, not long after crossing the Columbia River bar into the Pacific Ocean, an engine room technician on the ship found what proved to be a bomb that had been planted on the ship by someone hoping for an insurance claim. The technician brought the bomb to the deck, and several men, including the captain, stood around it. Samuel cautioned the men to leave the object alone, but someone did not heed. The bomb exploded and several men were killed, including the captain.
Samuel was blinded in the explosion, and the other senior officers were all injured or killed. In spite of his injury, Samuel instructed the Boatswain (Petty Officer) through the process of bringing the ship back toward the coastline of the United States, where the Coast Guard could be reached to come and help. Ashore, Samuel was hospitalized and began treatment and rehabilitation. In the process, he was granted permanent residency in the United States, and God worked it out for his family to immigrate also. Linda came with their children and stood by Samuel through all the adjustments of coping with his blindness and also acclimating to life in a new country. Linda had been trained in nursing, and in time, Samuel was trained to be an x-ray technician. Both worked for years in a local hospital.
Then, in the 1980s, Linda began to show signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Samuel faithfully cared for her until it became obvious that she needed twenty-four-hour supervision. She was admitted to a care facility, where Samuel’s face became familiar to the staff. He went to visit and help with her care every day until she passed away.
Samuel and Linda Kuan were exemplary in staying true to their marriage covenant through many difficulties. Yet God is far more reliable than any human being. When He says something, we can count on it happening one hundred percent of the time.
Moses had developed a close relationship with God, and they communicated freely with one another. In today’s focus verse, God told Moses that He would make a covenant with Moses and the Children of Israel. Imagine the awesomeness of entering into a covenant with God himself!
God’s promises were not just for the people in Biblical history. His Word is full of promises that apply to us today, among them the great covenant that He will give us eternal life. However, we must choose to be recipients of His conditional covenant by submitting to His will and establishing a close personal relationship with Him.
This text describes how God renewed His covenant with the Children of Israel.
The first tables of stone — on which God himself had inscribed the Ten Commandments — were broken when Moses came down from Mount Sinai and saw the Children of Israel worshipping a golden calf. In verses 1-4 of this chapter, God gave instructions to Moses to hew (carve out) two new tables of stone. God promised to rewrite the Commandments upon them. Moses was also commanded to go up into the mountain by himself, and he carefully followed God’s directions.
Verses 5-9 tell the fulfillment of God’s promise to make His goodness pass before Moses (see Exodus 33:19-23). God came in the cloud and declared that He was “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” Moses’ response was to bow his head and worship, and to entreat God for His continued presence and forgiveness.
In verse 10, God responded by renewing His covenant with the Children of Israel and promising to drive out the inhabitants of the Promised Land (verse 11). Then He warned that the people were to keep themselves separate from the inhabitants of the land — not to worship their idols or to intermarry (verses 12-17). God had made a covenant with the Children of Israel, and they were not to make covenants with the people about them. God restated many of His instructions, including those for three annual feasts and the Sabbath (verses 18-27), and He promised protection as the people obeyed.
After Moses spent another forty days with God, he returned to the people with a brightly shining face (verses 28-35). He had observed God’s glory and spent time in His presence, and the glory showed on his countenance.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
V. The construction of the Tabernacle
C. The delay in the building
2. The renewal of the covenant
c. The second tablets of the Law (34:1-9)
d. The renewal of the covenant (34:10-17)
e. The observance of the feasts and the Sabbath (34:18-27)
f. The radiance of Moses (34:28-35)
A close personal relationship with God is something we want to develop and maintain throughout our lives.